Maruti Suzuki, the nation’s largest carmaker arrived in the market in 1983 with the launch of the SS80. In the 45 years since it has quite a few hits and there have been some forgotten blips in the radar as well. In this post, let’s take a look at 10 of those forgotten cars from Maruti Suzuki.
The Maruti 1000 was the first sedan to bear the Maruti Suzuki badge. Launched in 1990, the 1000 was powered by a 970cc engine capable of cranking out 46 Bhp and weighed in at 825 kilogrammes. Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi owned one of these sedans, which was dubbed by one media person as “by the elite for the elite,” due to its rather bonkers price tag of Rs 3.81 lakhs in 1990. The price tag was the biggest issue with the 1000 and Maruti replaced it with the Esteem in 1993.
Omni High Roof
Simply known as the van to many a school kid in the 90s and 2000s, the Omni offered quite a lot of space on the inside. So when Maruti offered a high roof version of the van with more room on the inside, customers instead continued with the regular Omni, largely ignoring the high-roof variant.
Maruti launched the Zen hatchback in India in 1993 and the small car has a zealous cult-like fan base in the country. When Maruti decided to give the hatchback a few retro design changes in the form a three-piece grille, round headlamps and steel bumpers for the Zen Classic, the new variant was largely ignored by the fan base, who preferred the regular car over this now pretend old-school model. It was quickly discontinued and finding one on the roads today is a rather rare sight.
Zen Carbon and Steel
Maruti also released two limited run models of the Zen called the Zen Carbon and Zen Steel. The limited run cars were special three-door models of the Zen and Maruti limited their numbers to 300 each. Finding one on these three-door unicorns on the streets today is nigh on impossible considering their rarity, which makes people scratch their heads and ask if the car has been modified.
The Maruti Zen even spawned a diesel variant, which was launched in the year 2000. The Zen diesel drew power from a 1.5-litre Peugeot-sourced engine which cranked out 58 Bhp and 78 Nm of torque. Despite the massive gap between petrol and diesel prices at that time, the Zen Classic wasn’t that popular and there are only a few left on the roads today.
Not to be confused with the recently launched Alturas G4 from Mahindra, the Baleno Altura was a station wagon version of the Baleno sedan from the 2000s. Unfortunately, India hasn’t been very kind to estates and the Baleno Altura didn’t do well on the sales charts and quickly became a forgotten memory for many Indians.
Launched in 2001 as a larger and more premium upgrade from compared to the Omni ‘van’, the launch of the Versa saw Maruti rope in Amitabh Bachchan, then on one of his career-highs thanks to Kaun Banega Crorepati as the brand ambassador for the new MPV. Unfortunately, even Big B wasn’t able to deflect the eyes of enough people away from the large price tag of the Versa which was discontinued 8 years later in 2009. Maruti replaced the Versa with the much more affordable Eeco in 2010.
Launched in 2012 as a rival to the Hyundai i10, the Maruti A-Star offered a rather quirky design and ease of driving, which were its biggest selling points. Unfortunately, the A-Star’s price tag put it squarely in the cross-hairs of more popular and recognizable models like the Swift and the Wagon R, both of which had better brand recall in the country. Maruti discontinued the A-Star in India in 2014, though the hatch continued to do well in international markets for quite a while longer.
The name Vitara today is associated with the Vitara Brezza, the nation’s most popular SUV. However, the Vitara name tag was first introduced in India in 2009 in the form of Maruti’s large Grand Vitara SUV. The Vitara was only offered with a petrol variant which was powered by a 2.4-litre engine. The lack of a diesel option and a price tag of over Rs 20 lakh due to the fact that the carmaker imported the SUV into India as a CBU, saw the Grand Vitara fade into the background in the sales charts. Maruti discontinued the Grand Vitara in 2014.
Maruti’s answer to the Toyota Corolla and the Honda Civic came in the form of the Kizashi sedan. The Kizashi was one of the most affordable CBU vehicles on sale in India when it arrived in 2011. Unfortunately, the Kizashi was only offered with a 2.4-litre petrol engine, which was known for its thirsty nature. The lack of a diesel option compounded the Kizashi’s problems and it was discontinued three years after it first arrived on Indian roads.